Dr. David's

Pearls of Wisdom

Halitosis, or bad breath, is a common concern for patients who come into the dental office. It’s a sensitive topic that many of our patients are too embarrassed to discuss, even with their hygienist. There are many causes for halitosis and your dentist or hygienist may have a solution for you. If you suspect you have bad breath or someone has commented on your breath odor, have a discussion with your dental professional. Here are some common causes for halitosis and how to reduce or eliminate it:

Inadequate Dental Hygiene:  Bacterial plaque adheres to the teeth as well as remnants of the food we eat.  As break down of food particles occurs, sulfur compounds are released causing particularly bad breath. Discuss your dental hygiene routine with your dentist or hygienist for tips on preventing this build up.  Brush twice a day, floss daily and use an antimicrobial mouth rinse. When a tooth brush is not available, rinse your mouth with water and chew sugar free gum after meals.

Dental Disease: Bacteria can cause gum infections and tooth decay that also contribute to bad breath.  Mouth odor can also be a result of a dental infection/abscess. Have a thorough dental exam with your dentist to identify and treat these diseases.

Tobacco Use:  Aside from the obvious smell of smoke and tobacco, use of tobacco products can cause drying of the oral cavity, necrosis of the oral tissues and periodontitis. Giving up tobacco products, or at least reducing the frequency of use, can improve breath odor.

Dry mouth/Xerostomia:  A dry mouth can be from mouth breathing, medications, or medical conditions.  Saliva helps wash away dead cells and neutralize acids produced by oral bacteria. Without it, bacterial by products increase and cells decompose causing breath odor.  Breathing through your nose, drinking more water and sometimes artificial saliva will help relieve dry mouth and improve breath odor.

GERD:  Acid reflux and other digestive disorders release compounds that create breath odor. Treating digestive disorders, changing the diet and eating smaller meals can improve breath odor.

Diet:  Foods with strong odors such as onions and garlic are known for lingering long after someone has eaten them. The food that is digested in the body can lead to a smell coming from the lungs. Extreme diets and low carb diets can also cause bad breath from the production of ketones.

Alcohol:  Alcohol is a diuretic which not only makes you feel dehydrated or hungover, but it is drying to the oral tissues.  The reduced amount of saliva means increased debris and bacteria, causing foul breath.

Illness:  Bad breath can be a symptom of several serious diseases. Respiratory infections, Sinus Infections, kidney/liver problems and diabetes can cause breath odor. 

To improve your breath, drink plenty of water, brush and floss regularly and have a dental check-up twice a year.

DON’T BE EMBARRASSED! Halitosis is very common. Discuss your breath with your dentist as it could be a sign of a more serious condition. Call us today for a dental checkup (978) 779-2888